Mar 29, 2023, 12:40 PM
True followers, that meet all the criteria, in this day and age are a rare commodity. More and more, it is becoming difficult to find people who will follow a leader wholeheartedly out of conviction and not out of personal interests or because of the material gains that can be derived from such an association. Furthermore, there are those who for whom the benefits have to be immediate or follower they will not be. Our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, prescribes what a true follower, who desires to follow Him, should be like.
He spells it out thus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself means forsaking all other leaders, distractions and attractions and clinging only to Him. While that may seem to be a tall order, there is no letting off. The standard is high and so are the expectations. You remain focused because you have a clear objective and have purposed in mind not to depart or swerve from that path.
A follower of this caliber has not opted for an easy life; nor must he deprive himself. Hardship is tagged to it as well. If you are expecting a life of bliss, strewn with roses, you have backed the wrong horse. Such an engagement demands a life of sacrifice and total commitment. A true follower of Jesus is someone singled-out, called to be apart, to be an example; to be a beacon of the abundant kind of life that is marked by self-discipline and self-worth. It would be costly to think that you can be a true disciple whilst straddling the two camps of good and evil. There is certainly no room for half-measures or a half-hearted approach if one has vowed to be a true follower. It may not sound very appealing you would say. Well, it is all or nothing! Take it or leave it!
‘Come follow me’
At the start of our Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry, two of John the Baptist’s disciples - one of whom was Andrew - decided to follow Him to where He lived, when He heard that Jesus was the ‘Lamb of God’. He was so thrilled with the experience that he invited his brother Simon to come and see his discovery. “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41)
Andrew was not only content with discovering who Jesus was, he brought someone along. In other words, he wanted to share the treasure rather than keep it for himself alone. The following day, Jesus encountered Philip and invited the latter to follow Him. He, in turn, went to get Nathaniel. He doubted whether such a personality could be the real Jesus of Nazareth - the one Moses spoke about in the Books of the Law. “Nazareth! Can any good come from there? Philip invited him to ‘come and see.’ After Jesus brushed a quick character portrait of him, he was stunned. He believed forthwith. He became instantly one of the followers of Jesus. He did so though because of what Jesus had revealed to him about his character. Could he have been a true follower?
We would observe that both characters – Andrew and Philip, dragged someone else with them to be followers as well. Conviction is a starting point. That conviction was based on what they had seen and the first hand information they had received. These young Galileans gave up themselves as followers for the rest of their lives – through thick and thin and the challenges of Jesus’ earthly ministry culminating in His crucifixion. ‘Come and see,’ it will no longer be hearsay but for real – eye-witnesses.
When you tell someone to follow you, it is evident you have something to show. When he does, it is because he has seen in you someone who can show him the way. He has seen in you a source of inspiration, someone who could edify him so he can ascend to the next level. He would have observed you have something to impart to him for his wellbeing. Otherwise what would be the point of following?
When Andrew found the Messiah, Jesus, he was open-minded enough not to keep the information to himself. He invited his brother Peter along to come and witness for himself. When you find a treasure, a key to open all the doors to your heart; one that promises eternal life you want others to benefit as well.
Am I following Jesus out of conviction or am I just towing the line? Am I a true follower or just an onlooker? Do I want to reach my best potential as a follower of the Lord? Do I want to follow and yet not carry my cross? Am I able to deny myself as a true follower? Our Lord has set His standard very high that not just anyone can scale. Where do you stand?